Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.
Coffee-- administered intravenously, sounded just about right at the moment; that's what I needed to function at a reasonable level today. Monday mornings have never been my strong suit. Truthfully, going back to bed sounded even better than the coffee.
Unfortunately, the chaos in front of me was a reminder that that was not going to be possible. It was February and school was in full swing... and today was Show & Tell.
For first graders with their sticky hands full of special rocks and pockets full of dinosaur bones Show & Tell was right up there with the Superbowl-- a national event.
And I do love my bouncy little first graders-- so I'm here and I'm smiling and I'm waiting for nine o'clock when I can order them to get into a straight line-- that they can never exactly manage to do-- and bring them inside.
Most of them are here already.
I can spot them amid the dozens of children easily. They're the youngest after all. Wood Grove Elementary houses 1st grade through 6th grade, so my little ones are always easy to spot.
Kevin, Andy, and Luke are huddled over by the monkey bars, probably trying to outdo each other with their special items.
Madeline and Amy are doing the same thing by the benches.
Adam and Mikie are playing with their gameboys - which I'm probably going to have to confiscate at some point today - over by the swings.
Cindy, Brittany, Aaron, and Joey are all playing on the jungle gym, their book-bags and lunchboxes piled on top of each other a few feet away-- in a way that's sure to cause all forms of confusion once the Line-Up Bell rings.
April is missing, I notice and scan the yard again.
Instead of spotting the dark head with its traditional two long braids, though, I spot Mrs. Mart, the principal-- gesturing towards me.
The older woman is standing at the far end of the playground, near the gates, and she's with someone.
My brows rise a little as I study the man standing with my boss.
Tall, broad shouldered, and darkly clad he looks extraordinarily out of place among the raucous noise and bright colors of the playground. He turned towards me suddenly, following Mrs. Mart's gesture and my mouth nearly drops open.
He's holding a baby. A chubby, dark-haired baby that's snuggled on his shoulder and deeply asleep. A white and baby blue blanket spread beneath his cheek-- across the dark leather jacket his father was wearing.
And I can't help but think that he just doesn't look the type to be walking around with a baby.
They're walking towards me suddenly and I find myself standing up a little straighter, because the stranger's gaze is raking me from top to bottom. Studying me intently as he takes slow steps.
With a frown I study him right back, that's when realize why he's walking so slowly.
There's another child. A small boy who hinders what I'm sure is usually a long stride for the man.
It makes sense now. A new student.
"Good Morning, Angie," Mrs. Mart announces and I have to stop myself from wincing at the sheer amounts of cheer in that tone, I smile at her instead-- I like being employed.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Mart. How are you today?" I ask her politely, shooting the man another quick look.
He's tall, over 6 feet definitely and he could be handsome, I'm sure, but the expression on his face discourages any such thoughts. He looks as if his perpetual expression is a scowl.
The baby on his shoulder could not possible appear any more incongruous; a cherub perched on the arm of a Dark Knight.
"I'm quite well, thank you! We have a new addition to our little community..." Mrs. Mart gushed, "This is John Donnelly and his son Dean. Dean will be in your class, Angie and Mr. Donnelly here wanted to have a word with you before the day got started," she announced gaily.
I nodded, smiling at the man, "Of course, I'd be happy to," I told him. Parents wanted to do that all the time; to make sure I understood how special their little one was. Two whole years of teaching had taught me that its best to just nod, smile and utter the magic phrase I'll be sure to keep that in mind.
There was silence after that, before John shifted and looked Mrs. Mart, "Thanks for the introduction, Ma'am." He said.
It was soft, polite and edged with steel-- a dismissal and I could barely hold back my smirk. Mrs. Mart tended to include herself in everything.
He had a nice voice, deep and husky, I imagine it'd be comforting to some and scary to others...
Mrs. Mart blinked a little, then nodded, "Oh well... yes, I guess... I should... go check in with the other teachers," she glanced at her watch, "It's almost nine!" She cried and moved away quickly. I watched her go then looked to Mr. Donnelly again.
"I'll just keep you a minute, Ma'am." He said and motioned for me to follow him a bit closer to the building, where there was less noise from the children.
"Miss Angie," I told him smiling, "Call me Miss Angie," then I looked down then, "Dean will..."
I expected to get a look at the child's face, to see him look up at me and smile, but he didn't do that, he didn't do anything. He remained quiet and oddly still for such a young boy.
It was another thing I'd learned in my two years of teaching. They were never still; and if they were quiet, be afraid.
It was odd, but I said nothing, just met Mr. Donnelly's gaze and waited for him to begin.
"We just moved here."
He didn't so much say it, as he did announce it and I felt the wealth of history in those words.
I smiled, because really, what else was I supposed to do?
"Welcome then," I offered as warmly as I could when he didn't continue, "I hope you like Wood Grove."
I looked down at the boy... Dean? again, but still there was no response from him.
"I need you to keep an eye on my boy," he said and his gaze burned into mine. I found myself almost taking a step back. There was something fierce about the way he said those words.
I nodded, "Well, yes... I mean, that's what I... of course I will..." I stumbled, disconcerted by that gaze.
"Your principal told me each teacher's responsible for her class. She said you bring the kids out here for lunch and recess. She said it usually looks like this."
He said the last word while looking around and I swear he sounded disgusted. I look around with him and can't help, but smile a little.
So that's the problem. He's one of those uber-orderly parents-- again he didn't look the type, but whatever.
"It does look a little chaotic, huh?" I tell him and I know I sound a little amused, but come on they're kids... its supposed to look chaotic.
I start to tell him about how important play-time is and how critical using their imagination is for a little kid's development, but then he turns back to me and the words stick in my throat.
His entire face looks darker somehow, his eyes almost angry, and I realize suddenly that this man is imposing.
"It looks unsafe," he corrects me darkly and that urge to take a step back returns.
My smile falters, "The gates are closed during recess and lunch," I offer, feeling decidedly uncomfortable under his sudden scrutiny, it feels like he's examining me and finds me... hell, finds the school somehow-- lacking.
"The rear of building isn't gated and those," he pointed towards the front,"... gates spend all morning open. The woods around the property provide good cover."
Okay, it's totally time to take that step back now.
What the hell?
Good cover? What?
I stare at him in partial bafflement for a moment, before remembering that I'm teacher and taking a deep breath, "Mr. Donnelly, I'm not sure exactly what you mean?"
There's an understatement. Is this guy nuts?
"I mean that I want you to keep an eye on my boy. I want you to watch him when he's out here."
"I watch all the children. As you said, they're my responsibility."
He frowns at me, like I got the easy answer on the exam wrong. Behind him I see Mrs. Mart getting ready to ring the Line-Up bell.
"I need you to watch, Dean." He states after a moment as though I hadn't just said I would.
I'm about to release a long sigh and tell him that I have to get going and that I'll be sure to keep that in mind when I glance down at the boy again.
I guess he'd looked up when his Dad had said his name.
My mouth snaps shut.
A lighter in coloring than his father and even the baby his father held... the boy had high cheekbones, delicate features, a spattering of freckles, and big hazel eyes.
And they are the saddest eyes I have ever seen in a little boy; wide and solemn and just... quiet, somehow.
"He's a good boy," his father said, but I couldn't bring myself to look away from the child right then.
I liked kids. It's why I became a teacher. I particularly like little kids. I appreciate them for their liveliness and imagination and courage-- I tend to love them just because, with no effort needed on their part... and this little kid was calling on every maternal instinct in my body.
"... he's had a..."
Mr. Donnelly is still talking to me, telling me something explaining something to me, so I take a deep breath and look up at him.
He doesn't look all that dark anymore. In fact he looks hesitant somehow.
"...a hard time of it... lately... he's... quiet..."
The man continued to explain and I looked down at Dean again, only he wasn't looking up anymore. He'd gone back to just standing there, holding his Dad's hand.
"... but he listens, he's a good boy," Mr. Donnelly repeats.
And I tear my gaze from the bowed, blonde head and meet his father's gaze, "I'm sure he is." I tell him and pull up a smile.
The bell rings then.
But his gaze holds me in place, "Will you do that for me then?" He asks and by the tightness in his voice I know he doesn't like to ask for anything, "Will you watch him?"
I nod slowly, feeling suddenly like I'm entering a contract of some sort, "I'll watch him." I promise.
He nods, "I sure do appreciate that," he murmurs as if he'd have taken any other answer.
"I have to gather my class now. It was... nice… meeting you, Mr. Donnelly." I tell him, hesitating over the word. Nice might not be the right one to use... but it sure as hell was interesting.
He nods, but makes no move to release Dean's hand. So I move away and call for my students.
In seconds there's a tiny throng of 6 year olds at my feet, but instead of coaxing them into a line as usual I find myself studying the Dean and his father.
He was still holding Dean's hand. Dean was looking up at him with wide eyes, fastening his gaze one moment on his father and the next on the sleeping baby. His Dad was speaking and although I couldn't hear what he was saying I could hear the timbre of his voice and knew it was meant to comfort the boy. His face was soft and his eyes warm-- he was handsome, right then.
Dean's gaze dropped suddenly and he shook his head. Around me the kids had started to break off into groups again. I'd have to herd them up all over again... but I couldn't tear my gaze from that little family.
Mr. Donnelly took a deep breath, as if strengthening himself, and I watched in fascination as his face slowly hardened. When he spoke, his voice carried over to me, "You need to go to school, Dean. Go get in line."
"Miss Angie? Miss Angie?" the kids called.
I raised my hand and they quieted.
Dean didn't look back up at his Dad.
I watched him take a shuddering breath and then yank his hand out of his father's-- as if he were pulling a band-aid off.
I watched him turn around and face the playground, face me and the rest of the kids.
I watched him take that first step towards us.
I watched a flash of something that almost looked like panic flutter across his father's face.
I watched as a moment later Dean joined my group of kids.
Author's Note: This story came like drawing blood from a rock. I wrote it first in John's POV, but it was to OOC angsty. Then in another parent's, but I couldn't get what I wanted from it. I even started it from the principal's POV and that didn't work either.
I finally settled on this one and I hope I was able to convey some of what it is I wanted to say... please tell me what you think!